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Bengal starts changing school records of ex-enclave dwellers

Changing school records to rectify fake parents is a unique exercise anywhere in the country.

kolkata Updated: Oct 27, 2017 09:39 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
West Bengal,Bangladesh,Enclaves
File picture of children for the former Bangladesh enclaves just before the areas merged into India in 2015. These children had no way of getting admission in schools in this country without submitting fake documents. (HT Photo)

The Mamata Banerjee administration has initiated a process to change school records of hundreds of dwellers of erstwhile Bangladesh enclaves in India who became Indian citizens two years ago. The exercise will change the names and addresses of “fake fathers” and other details such as addresses that many were compelled to submit to get admission to Indian schools.

Changing school records to rectify fake parents is a unique exercise anywhere in the country.

Read: In pics | Mapping out the lines: Indo-B’desh enclave exchange

The enclave dwellers simply did not have a choice -- no school would have admitted the children since they were not Indians and had no valid papers. The enclaves did not have any basic infrastructure such as schools, primary health centres, electric connection, roads and water supply.

File picture of villagers of dwellers of Madhya Mashaldanga enclave in Cooch Behar district lighting candles during the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh at midnight of July 31, 2015. (HT Photo)

Earlier HT reported that an estimated 1,000 youths in the district, between the age group of 20s and 30s, are caught in a unique problem, as their Aadhaar and Epic card details do not match with their school leaving records.

“Several youths approached us with this problem. We have started the process of verifying facts. We’ll then write to respective school education boards from which they passed out, explaining the whole story, and request the board authorities to change the school leaving records accordingly,” said Krishnabha Ghosh, sub-divisional officer of Dinhata.

After these people became Indian citizens in 2015, they got Aadhaar and EPIC with the correct names and details.

Read: India-Bangladesh enclave swap: Land losers cry foul, seek compensation

The block development officer (BDO) of Dinhata, Amartya Debnath, is personally visiting the residents of such students for this purpose.

“The BDO came to my house last week. I showed him the residence of the man whose name was used in my school records as father’s name,” said Rahaman Ali, son of Naskar Ali, who has the name of neighbour Shahar Ali as father in school documents.

He passed out from Chowdhurihat Vivekananda High School in Dinhata block of Cooch Behar district.

Read: No decent jobs for this community in Bengal as they have ‘fake fathers’

“This is a welcome move but should have been initiated earlier. Everybody born in the enclaves had to use fake fathers and addresses to get enrolled in schools. The youths who are in the job market now face the problem of two different fathers and addresses in their school records and citizenship certificates,” said Diptiman Sengupta, convener of Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee that spearheaded the dwellers’ movement for citizenship.

In July 2015, India and Bangladesh swapped enclaves held in each other’s territory, signing a historic agreement that took 40 years to finalise. India took in 14,856 people living in 51 Bangladeshi enclaves and Bangladesh accepted 37,369 living in 111 Indian enclaves -- 979 of whom chose Indian citizenship. All Bangladeshi enclaves in India were in Cooch Behar district.

The problem became acute when the job applications of a few youths in their twenties and thirties were rejected as the school records and documents obtained since becoming Indian citizens did not match

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 09:39 IST